The curse of the underachiever

Every day of her life was filled with achievements.

From the first smile to rolling over, from the initial tentative crawl to those inaugural wobbly steps.

Then running, jumping, talking, singing, painting, reading, writing and the world of possibilities these huge achievements opened up.

Like every child, she craved attention. Clamouring to tell her parents what she’d done today, why she was the best in the class and who she had beaten in the latest test, music exam or egg and spoon race.

As she grew older, the desire to be the centre of attention started to wane. She realised that some days, her best just wasn’t good enough. She sensed the disappointment in her parents’ voices when her grades didn’t quite match up to the rosy picture in their minds.

Friends seemed to find themselves in the same position. School break times and lunch times were spent swapping tales of woe and realising that life was not quite as easy as it seemed.

But the underachiever was still there, close to the top of the class. Good enough to go to a great university, but not the very best. Not quite meeting the expectations that were set all those years ago by that tiny little child, full of enthusiasm and hope.

University comes and goes in a blur of little work and plenty of socialising. She still does well enough to pass, well enough to get a job but not the best of jobs, not what was expected of her.

And she goes to work, succumbs to the daily grind. Getting by, doing okay but never flying.

Until one day, she hears the pitter-patter of tiny feet.

She looks down at the child on her knee and her heart fills with love.

And every day, that little girl achieves so much. People gush that the little girl is bright, sociable and a quick learner. Destined for great things they say.

Her mum smiles sadly and pulls the little girl closer.

Greatness is overrated.

She is determined not to let history repeat itself. The grade C that took every ounce of effort is worth so much more than the easy A grades.

She will always be pleased, always be proud even when the little girl’s halo starts to slip.

She doesn’t know when mediocrity slipped into her life, but she knows that if she hadn’t been so afraid to fall then she might just have jumped.

She knows that her fear of failure kept her from striving for success.

And she resolves to tell her children every single day that she loves them. Not for how well they’ve done or how much they have achieved, but for who they are.

Failure is a wonderful thing because it means that you tried.

The curse of the underachiever. Failure is a wonderful thing because it means that you tried.



1 Comment

  1. February 9, 2016 / 9:13 pm

    Aaah this is SUCH a lovely post! And I totally and utterly agree. Greatness can be measured in many ways — one person’s underachievement may be another person’s triumph. I hope my boys are always proud of their achievements — no matter how small.

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